Eleven other men have won the Miami Valley Metropolitan Championship over the last 17 years, but it’s doubtful whether any of them enjoyed the experience any more than 39-year-old Ryan Reichley, who won the 2012 championship on Aug. 5 at Greene Country Club. “That was a pretty big win for me emotionally,” he said. “It has been a long time since I stood up in front of a crowd alone holding a trophy.” During his teenage years Reichley was no stranger to trophy presentations. He was a junior golf sensation while playing in tournaments in Ohio , Kentucky , Indiana , Florida and Georgia . At the age of 14 he earned All-America honors in the American Junior Golf Association. At one time he was ranked No. 4 in the United States in his age group.
He thought he might be winning trophies on the PGATour some day, but it didn’t happen. “I won a lot up to the age of 15 or 16,” he said. Looking back on it, he thinks his golfing career fizzled because he didn’t handle his success well. “I don’t think as a junior I treated people like I should have,” he said. “I think I’ve been doing a 20-year penance for that.” Reichley was good enough to help Fairborn High School win the Ohio Class AAA golf championship in 1989, and he qualified for the 1990 Junior World Championship in San Diego . After graduating from high school, he spent four years in the Army and an unremarkable two years (1996-98) on the Wright State University golf team where four-time Metro champion and current WSU golf coach Pete Samborsky was a teammate. Then he played tournament golf on the Florida mini-tours for four years. “I got married in August of 1998 and we drove to Florida two days later,” he said. “We didn’t have a honeymoon.”
He played on the Golden Bear and Hooters tours with only modest success. If he needed a sign that a pro career wasn’t in the cards for him, he got it on Sept. 11, 2001 – the day the World Trade Center towers and The Pentagon were hit by hijacked airliners. “I was leading a tournament with nine holes to play,” he remembers. “A guy called us to the pool area and told us what happened and said the tournament was canceled. I was an hour and-a-half from winning $100,000.” A few months later he was working at Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando when he lost his job because of a staff reduction. It was time to return to Dayton and find a real job. “I didn’t like making the decision,” he said.
Reichley is now a program manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He and his wife, Dawn, have two sons, Jake, 11, and Parker, 4. For the last three years Reichley has played golf at Country Club of the North where he carries a plus 2.4 handicap index. “I enjoy golf more now than I ever did as a kid,” he said. He doesn’t remember ever having played in the Metro before, but he signed up this year because it was being played at Greene – the course where he learned to play. He grew up in a home near the No. 4 fairway at Greene and he played countless rounds of golf on the course in his youth. That is another reason why he was so emotional after shooting a 3-under-par 69 to nip current Wright State golfer Rick Denny of Germantown by one stroke for the championship.
“This course holds a special place in my life,” said Reichley, whose father, Dr. Joe Reichley, still plays there and whose grandparents were among the founders of the club. “It’s a part of my family and a part of me.” He was especially pleased that his grandmother, Elizabeth Dodge, was visiting from Kentucky and was at the course to see him receive the trophy. “I think I have a lot greater appreciation for it now than I did as a junior,” he said. Reichley’s only regret was that his wife, who saw him spend so much time in pursuit of his golf dream during their four years in Florida, couldn’t see him play the final round in the Metro. She had taken the 11-year-old Jake over to CCN to play in a junior event, but they did make it back to Greene to help him celebrate.